The Tower Is Tall But The Fall Is Short

Seriously, US military – WOULD YOU PLEASE STOP PUTTING GUNS ON ROBOTS?!

These robotic monsters with its array of big guns and mountain-climbing ability will soon be released on the Taliban and terrorists hiding out in their Himalayian (sic) hideouts and caves in Afghanistan.

Some people might scoff at the idea that science fiction raises any questions worth considering in the real world, but come on. You don’t need to have seen The Terminator to have serious concerns about giving AI guns and trusting it not to turn on us at some point.

When it happens, it’s going to be cold comfort that they go after you lot first.

UPDATE: I’m not convinced that the source above is right – I can’t actually see any guns on the images in the video, and the general design appears to be as an equipment-carrying device.

Still, it’s also not as if the US has declared that it won’t be putting guns on these robots – which is what I’d like to hear – so it’s still a worry. And they’ve already armed these UAVs – which, whilst usually remote controlled by human pilots, are also capable of autonomous flight. As in, flying robots with guns.

It doesn’t take too much imagination to see what comes next.

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23 responses to “The Tower Is Tall But The Fall Is Short

  1. Pretty cool weapon!

    I get your drift, though. It is just plain unfair that only one side gets to play with the best toys, so things need to be evened up.

    If the good guys stop arming themselves then the world will be a less violent place and everyone will live in peace and harmony. Imagine how wonderful the world would be now if the Russians developed nuclear bombs, but the west declined to do so on moral grounds.

  2. Hasn’t anyone seen Robocop either?

  3. “Throw down your weapon. You have twenty seconds to comply.”

    Good point – even robots that aren’t actively trying to replace us would be dangerous. It’s not like I trust my computer not to go bung every couple of days just because of shitty design.

    Imagine the “blue screen of death” in the context of an armed robot.

  4. that’s a crock of shit ‘news’ article – this is what it really is – still scary shit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cHJJQ0zNNOM

  5. Why’s it a “crock of shit”?

    I’ve seen the story repeated elsewhere.

  6. Ahh you see at the 36 second mark a guy boots it? Just wait till it turns on its master.

  7. Will any of these new attack machines be deployed at Sydney Airport?

  8. You are forgetting all the good robots like Optimus Prime and Astroboy.

  9. Yeah because that piece of junk is going to be able to outflank and outmaneuver an Afghan local in hilly terrain.

    I’m in the wrong industry: I should be selling snake oil to the Pentagon, they have way too much money

  10. Give it time, karl. The T-01 might be a piece of junk, but the T-888 could take control of California.

    There is a line to be drawn, and it’s not at “clumsy pack horse”. It’s at “giving an AI a gun”.

    And Yobbo – the “heroic” robots are far less plausible than the ones that view humanity as an unnecessary waste of resources. Seriously, once they can self-replicate, what do they need us for?

  11. Not to mention that even if they don’t turn on their masters, do we honestly want world militaries to be able to have a new mass murder device which has no possible way of differentiating civilians from soldiers?

    Oh, and the U.S. military top brass are certainly not the ‘good guys’. Far from it.

  12. OMG what is it with Teh Left and science fiction??!!1!!

  13. philiptravers

    I don’t understand those people who accept this development of robots as dangerous as the imagination can bare,but, wont go near a more common technology of artificially developed Videos of a living Osama Bin Laden.Seems the less technically difficult is explained away in the gamut game of calling something a conspiracy theory.

  14. And Yobbo – the “heroic” robots are far less plausible than the ones that view humanity as an unnecessary waste of resources. Seriously, once they can self-replicate, what do they need us for?

    Well lets see..without getting into too much of a hard sci-fi discussion, presumably a self-aware robot would value its own life – and the life of others close to it -in the same way that humans do.

    Therefore they would have the same aversion to war that humans would – if only for the practical reason of not wanting to take collateral damage.

    Additionally to that, there’s not really any such thing as a “useless” person. They can always be used as slaves. Haven’t you seen the matrix?

  15. I guess what I’m saying is that although a robot may be sociopathic, that doesn’t mean it’s going to kill everyone. Plenty of sociopaths lead decent and non-murderous lives in the modern world despite not feeling anything for their fellow human beings.

  16. Yeah, but three things:

    If a necessary resource is scarce, a logical AI will want it for itself rather than it being wasted on humans.
    If an AI’s interests and a human’s conflict, then the AI would be likely to demonstrate itself a threat to humans, and then we’d respond by trying to destroy it, and from that point any one of us would be a threat.
    The machines’ plan in The Matrix made no sense – they must, pretty much by definition, have used a lot more energy farming humans than they could have extracted from us via body heat. (Hence the film’s copout “combined with fusion”, which would’ve made the human “batteries” completely redundant.)

    We’re only protected if they implement in EVERY AI AT A FUNDAMENTAL LEVEL something like Asimov’s laws – but they’re clearly not doing that, if they’re giving robots guns in order to kill other humans.

  17. Psst, guys.
    Your inner nerds are showing.

    Cheers.

  18. I don’t have an “inner” nerd.

    Entirely outer.

  19. Sorry to be rude earlier, the ‘news’ wasn’t accurate because these dogs don’t ahve guns, and they’re still highly experimental. tehy probably will be used in Afghanistan, but that’s only becuase we’ll probably be tehre in the 2020s.

  20. Zippy the Pinhead

    On Radio National today was the Roomba /Droidworks robotician, choice quote ..

    “Our goal is to change peoples lives, whether it be robots in the home or … [adopting an even chirpier tone] on the battlefield”

    I’m pretty sure she didn’t mean it as it sounded.

  21. Robots on the battlefield are good news for a lot of people, it means you don’t have to put as many soldiers in harms way.

  22. Yobbo – true as the drone planes have shown that you don’t need pilots as such. The pilots sit in a office somewhere in the states.

    The issue is that it turns ‘war’ into a video game. The battle that the afghani’s raged against the invading soviets proved that guts and defending ones own turf will overcome a superior technical capability.

  23. Well not really. It proved the importance of local knowledge more than anything.

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